In the summer of 1938, months after the Battle of Teruel, a group of republican soldierss fell into the hands of the rebel group in the Sierra de Albarracín. And an undetermined number of them, a score perhaps, they were summarily shot in a place known as the Muela de San Juan, at about 1,800 meters of altitude, near the town of Greeks.
83 years after those events, the city Hall of this mountain town and the association Pozos de Caudé, invoking the Law of Historical Memory, have proposed locate the remains of all those soldiers and identify them in order to deliver them to their families and give them a dignified burial.
Excavation work, made by ArqueoAntro, began on September 8 and they have already given results with the discovery on the same day of the first skeletal remains in a trench which, by taking in the lifeless bodies of the unfortunate soldiers, became a mass grave.
“We do not know how many there were, it could be that 7 or 8 or close to 20”, explains Francisco Sánchez Gómez, from Pozos de Caudé, which has launched the search with a grant of 10,000 euros from the Secretary of State for Historical Memory and channeled by the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces.
“We have been lucky,” says Sánchez, who believes that the rapid progress of the search will prevent the excavation from entering the autumn and having to be interrupted with the first snowfalls, which tend to arrive prematurely and are very copious in that area.
The prospecting of the land began thanks to the indications of elderly Greek people who, as the appearance of various bones has shown, were correct about the location of the burial place. “Years before it is seen that a group of children from the local school found a skull by chance in that same place,” says the head of Pozos de Caudé.
The length of the trench where the bones are beginning to appear is from 300 meters, which has caused a great surprise among those who are looking for the executed. In fact, it is already planned to recover the trench once all the soldiers have been located. The objective is that, in time, it can be visited as a vestige of the civil war.
Help to identify them
“We believe that finishing the job may take us two or three more days,” reports Javier Iglesias, director of ArqueoAntro, a company that is currently carrying out work to recover victims of the civil war in the great mass grave of the Paterna (Valencia) cemetery, where 2,237 executed persons are documented.
«In Greeks, when we saw that remains came out, we have passed the pick and the shovel armove the earth manually», It indicates. However, Iglesias advances, “the difficulty will come later, when it is necessary to identify the skeletons,” a task that will be done through the comparative study of DNA. But for this, warns the director of ArqueoAntro, you have to identify the soldiers and find their families. The task is not easy.
“We do not know anything about them, not even what unit they belonged to,” Iglesias acknowledges. Therefore, he emphasizes, eIt is crucial that those with helpful data get in touch with the team of archaeologists, with the Griegos City Council or with the Pozos de Caudé memorial organization.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.